There's old and then there's the Insulbrick
Regional variability in the cost of living is pretty much about housing and the issue of housing affordability is a pretty large topic. Still, if there is a "Pittsburgh Rich" story it is about some lower cost housing still to be had across the region.
But you have to think about what housing we have and in a lot of ways our housing is not the housing available elsewhere. Put another way, you get what you pay for. This all came to mind because the WashPo's Wonkblog has a whole little data story on the age of housing across the US. See: Map: The age of housing in every zip code in the U.S.
Nice little bit of data work, but it does not really give you the benchmarking to make it useful. By many measures, Pittsburgh has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. Sort of like with us, its not about temporal age, but 'real' age. The only major city that really comes close to Pittsburgh for old housing is Boston, and I will bet that our housing is a tad bit more disinvested than the older housing of Boston. So if you are interested in the topic locally, this this map I like to call the Insulbrick index
Still, the best quote that encapsulates it all is:
"It is cheap to live here. It's the only city I know of where you can have a part-time job at a coffee shop, still afford a mortgage payment and be able to go out once a week. ... How would that not be appealing to any young person who isn't ready to settle down?"From the PG a few years ago: Watch out Portland, Pittsburgh's lookin' hip, Is it really possible we are actually, authentically cool?